While many indie authors have a lifelong compulsion to write, some turn to self-publishing after writing has helped them deal with a traumatic event such as serious illness or bereavement. One example in the latter category is US author E Martin Ramsey (his pen name), who wrote his first book to help him come to terms with losing his young son, but now continues to write in other genres.
My first self-published book, Fifteen Years After, is a niche book in the truest sense. It won’t appeal to the majority of book lovers, but I hope it will appeal well to the niche it serves. You see, Fifteen Years After is the story of my fourteen-year-old son who took his own life fifteen years ago. Don’t be frightened. The book is not ghoulish and speaks to issues which are under-served and which need to be discussed.
Writing as Therapy
Fifteen Years After started out as a therapeutic exercise during the first few years immediately following Joe’s passing. I experienced some life set-backs thereafter which motivated me to write Joe’s story (and mine).
Fifteen Years After is then part memoir and part self-help for those who have experienced a similar loss. The story describes the circumstances surrounding Joe’s passing, and how an otherwise seemingly ordinary family can suddenly be blind-sided by cruel circumstances.
However, the story also describes how I coped as a father during then, as well as fifteen years after. In it, I submit to the reader suggestions based on my actual experience. The message in the final analysis is one of compassion plus hope, faith, and courage so that others might persevere through a parent’s worst nightmare.
I self-published Fifteen Years After through CreateSpace with relative ease, and it’s currently offered on Amazon. I’m also planning to publish on Ingram soon. I’ve just ordered the physical proof.
The Next Chapter
But the writing hasn't stopped with this book. I’m also in the process of writing another book; though still non-fiction it’s an entirely different genre. The working title is The Colonel and The Vicar. It combines two of my major interests, family genealogy and military history, specifically the American Civil War. I’ve finished a first pass but have a bit further to go before sending it off to the editor, hopefully by December or so. Whereas Fifteen Years After was emotionally difficult to write, The Colonel and The Vicar has been intriguing and, ironically, a therapy all its own! I also expect the self-publishing sojourn will be a lot easier the next time around.
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[…] and sore, take that bare emotion, and translate it into your art. Though much like grief is a process, letting go too, so is giving voice to these raw feelings through your writing and creativity—no matter the medium of that […]
Thank you for that Martyn, I agree it’s not a subject commonly written about but its so important to know. As a social worker, especially in my student days I used to read many books like this because of the insight it gave into other people. It helped me be better equipped to help others.
Thank you for taking the time to respond and offer your encouragement, Lynne.
Martyn, I appreciate the courage it took to not only write your son’s story but also to put it into print for the world to read. I’m a proponent of the healing benefits of writing and have a free e-book on my site on the subject. Wishing you success with your book!
Sherry, thank you for taking the time to respond and offer your encouragement. As far as healing goes, it’s a double-edged sword (that claymore again, from the book) insofar that writing the book was a painful experience because I had to remember everything in detail… it was going through therapy again all by yourself… from a perspective of 15 Years After… but I guess that’s the point of the therapy because on the positive side, it did help put things in perspective for me a little better… perhaps someone else will read it and benefit from it. That would be great.
Thanks so much for sharing your story here. I believe strongly in therapeutic writing. Some of the best books I’ve read had such roots (Riding the Blue Moth and many more). I wish you much success.
Thanks, Chris, for taking the time to respond and offer your encouragement. It took a long time calendar-wise to write the book… like I mentioned it started out as just a therapeutic exercise with Jerry (not Jerry Goondabye in the book; Jerry, my LICSW, also in the book) a lot of fits and starts… eventually I had what I guess you could call “life-changing event” and after that I felt compelled by that feeling in my stomach to make the notes into a book. I don’t have any great expectations, but if it helps save one life, it’s a victory.